Champery - Jan 2007

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Well with Xmas and New Year in the past most people head back to work in January feeling a little down. The festivities have come and gone and it seems a long time away till Summer. This has never been the case for me. As far back as I can remember I have always had a Ski or Boarding trip sorted for the first Month of the year.
Through my involvement with the Goneboarding website I have met some great people and spent a few fine days on the slopes with many of them. This week was no exeption. Pete Campbell (fatbob) asked last year if I would like to join him and a few others at the family apartment in Champery and along with Mike Heath (wildebeest) and Graham Stark (starky) we headed out to the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil ski region on the 14th of January.

I left Dumfries at around 05.30 on the Sunday morning and had a nice clear run down to the Manchester area. I had booked car parking with Airparks Services at Wilmslow. This place was easy to find and I had soon dropped the car and keys off and dragged my kit onto the shuttle bus to the airport. They drop you off at the Airport Interchange near the railway link. If, like myself you are flying from T3 you will be faced with a long walk of over 20 minutes to get there and its certainly not easy with a lot of luggage. I arrived at check-in feeling a little hot and sweaty after all the effort but I was able to get rid of my bags quickly and after paying the 15 per flight surcharge for board carriage I made my way through to the departure lounge to await the flight.
BMI Flight WW3885 to Geneva took off on time and I had a pleasant flight over to Switzerland helped by being able to relax with a couple of glasses of wine. As I was getting the train to Champery I had no worries about driving at the other side.
I soon had all my kit with me and headed to the bar to await the others arriving. Once we were all together we headed down to the Airport railway station and booked our return tickets to Champery. These cost CHF 92.50 and the journey of around 2.5 hours involves a change at Aigle where it is only a few minutes wait before the AOMC mountain train starts the journey to Champery.


Champery website


Goneboarding Champery 07 Thread.

Fatbob Films present:- 500 Miles by the Cardinals.
Click on link below.

Champery 07 Video

Once we arrived in Champery we only had a short walk to the appartment. We were not long in unpacking before heading out to the bar for a few beers. Bar Gueullhi is a minutes walk from the apartment right next to the main gondola station. We had our dinner here tonight and then took a walk up through the edge of the village to Mitchells bar for a drink before heading back to the apartment.

Bar Gueullhi.

Mitchells Bar

Monday January 15th
After a really good nights sleep we woke to find it was another very mild Springlike morning. We took some time in getting all our kit for the day sorted before we made our way to the ticket office. A lift pass for the day covering the Portes du Soleil cost CHF 56 which is around 23.50. Pete had told me a few weeks ago to bring along my old PDS electronic pass as it would have bonus points on it from my last trip and everytime you buy a pass more points get added. Once you have 200 points on the card you can claim a free day. Its not very well advertised but is something worth knowing about.
It was not too busy down at the gondola base station and we were soon on our way up to Planachaux. Snow cover up here was a bit patchy but there was still enough to do a bit of sliding on. We rode down to Les Crosets and done a few runs around there before taking the T.S des Mosettes chair up to Pointe des Mossettes at 2277m and dropping into France and the secteur Avoriaz.

Things were very hard and icy heading down Les Cases. We stopped at Brocheaux for lunch, a place where we had stopped at a couple of years back when we came over on a day trip from Chamonix. An omlette and a pint of coke and I was raring to go.
We took the Brocheaux chair up and into Avoriaz centre. It was a shock looking across to the green hillsides of Morzine and Mont Chery above Les Gets. The snow was pretty decent here in Avoriaz though. We spent a lot of the day cruising around the Arare sector where the snow was good and it was not too busy. We headed back via Lindarets and the Express Mossettes chair which takes you back to the Swiss/French border. The runs back down to les Crosets did not look too healthy so we took the chair back down. It had been a pretty decent first day and my right knee had stood up to things quite well.

Once back to Champery we went to Bar Gueullhi to have a few beers and to use the free wireless internet connection. The pints of Cardinal go down very nicely after a day on the slopes. We got washed and changed and went to Le Pub for dinner tonight.

Late afternoon from Mossettes chair

Wednesday 17th January
I was still on a high after last nights great cup win for Queens as we set out for the gondola. After a pain au chocolat for breakfast we were soon on our way. We headed over to Avoriaz via the Chavanette sector and spent the morning on the Arare slopes. It was quite busy here. We then headed down to Lindarets and sat outside for an early lunch at the Montriod restaurant. It was an omlette for me again today. We sat and enjoyed the sun and then made our way back over to Avoriaz and the top of the Prodains gondola where we met up with Mr Ride&Slide himself (Jonny), RobA and jennx who are currently doing a European road trip which has seen them heading to places as varied as Jasna in Slovakia and Chamonix. It was good to see them all again and after a quick chat and introductions for those who didnt know each other we were on our way. We hit Arare then traversed over to the Chavanette sector where conditions were reasonably good if not a bit busy in places. It was then down towards Lindaret hitting the little kickers at the edge of the piste. We managed to get some footage for the Champery 07 video production which has the Proclaimers song "500 miles" as the main theme and soundtrack. We left Jonny,Rob and Jenn and headed back over to Switzerland.
Tonight we had a few beers in Le Gueullhi and then dinner up at Le Pub which was excellent yet again.

Pete the "Proclaimer" !

Friday 19th January
Got up this morning and on looking out I could see it was still wet and wild. At 10am we took a walk to the supermarket stopping to look at the weather forecast on the way. It was not very promising.
We all took a walk up the road to the Grand Paradis chairlift which was the only access point to the ski area before the Croix de Culet gondola was built. We found there was still quite a bit of snow on the run down to the chair but it would almost certainly be broken higher up the run. We had the guitars with us and we were able to take some more footage for the Champery 07 video.

When we walked back to the apartment the sky began to brighten up. Starky had already packed his kit as he was heading home tommorow but myself,Pete and Mike decided to buy a half day ticket for the local area and head up to see what things were like. It cost us CHF 19 but as it was a reduced rate we did not get any more bonus points added to our lift pass cards. Once we left the gondola the sun was shining and the area was almost deserted. The snow loss had been dramatic and a lot of the area was just slush or large puddles. We all had a bit of fun in the puddles practicing our waterslide technique. None of us ended up getting a real soaking so that was a bonus. We had a great few hours before heading back down to the apartment. It was then the usual routine of taking the laptops round to the Gueullhi for a few beers. Tonight we took a walk through the village and went to Chalet Farinet for dinner. It was nice and quiet and we all had a nice meal. Steak and veg for me which came to CHF 33.

Saturday 20th January
On looking out this morning I was greeted with a clear sunny view and it also did not seem so windy. Graham left for Geneva on the 09.33 train and after a bite to eat we got our lift tickets and got onto the gondola. The links to Avoriaz were open via the Mossettes chair and up top visibility was excellent. We dropped down towards Lindarets where the snow loss from the last few days was evident. Lots of narrow and thin patches as well as ice traps everwhere for the unaware. It was not too busy early on but the crowds increased towards lunchtime. We were limited to the Arare and Chavanette areas to be honest. Lunch was again at the Yeti. After lunch we done a few runs below the Prolays Express chair before I decided to call it a day as I wanted to head back in time to get on line with Skysports for when the football scores started to come in. I decided to ride back down to Les Crosets. At the top the snow was again good but further down it was just a sea of mud and slush with lots of grass and rocks showing through. Luckily I did not do any real damage to my board.

I got most of my kit all packed up before we went over to Le Gueullhi . On Skysports I was disapointed to see that Derek Lyles goal for Dundee had beaten us at Dens Park. A few beers soon  numbed the effect though. Tonight we walked up to Mitchells for dinner. Had a good feed and then it was back to the apartment .


Happy smiling faces.
Les Dents du Midi from Avoriaz
The Combe du Machon Chair (Avoriaz)

Tuesday 16th January
After another decent nights sleep we were up and raring to go. We had breakfast on the move from the supermarket next to the lift station and after topping up our PDS lift passes for another day we were soon heading up to Les Crosets. We lost Graham for a short while as he had dropped down the same run as yesterday while the rest of us traversed along the ridge on the blue run that drops down to the Cubore chair lift. We all had a nice quick run down the Abricotine piste to Brocheaux where we all regrouped. Snow conditions were reasonable but it seemed busier than yesterday.
We made our way over to Avoriaz and spent the morning cruising around the Chavanette area.

Lunch today was at Le Yeti where we had a table outside in the sun. Had a cheese and ham baguette but the best laugh was when Graham "stole " the bread basket which was destined for the table behind us. The waiter had sat it on the end of our table until he had put some other things down but Graham turned round ,thought it was for us and whipped it ! Waiter turns round and bread basket has gone..classic.
After lunch we headed down to Lindarets and then took the new 6 pack Chaux Fleurie chair up to the Col de Bassachaux which is the boundary between the Avoriaz and Chatel sectors of the PDS. We only dropped down as far as Plaine Dranse as the snow cover was very thin and patchy. Conditions were not good over here and fresh snow was needed urgently. Time was getting on so we headed back up to Mossettes and from the top Pete and I rode all the way down to Les Crosets. The higher part of the red run down was in great condition but lower down it was like a field of mud in places.
Tonight we ate in Bar Gueullhi and I was busy keeping a close eye on the Scottish cup replay between Queen of the South and Dundee at Palmerston park. It went to penalties and I was so keen to here what was happening I had to phone Phil on the terraces and it made my day when I heard the roar after Neil Scally scored the winning spot kick.

Thursday 18th Jan
Woke up this morning and on looking out the window I could tell right away that it was not going to be a good morning for riding. It was raining and also quite windy. It was not difficult to make a decision not to go up and it was confirmed when Pete and myself took a walk to the supermarket to get breakfast. The lift status board was showing the links over to Avoriaz were all closed because of the winds. Had a walk over to the tourist office and picked up some leaflets and brochures before heading back to the apartment for a leisurly breakfast.
We decided to take the train down to Monthey which is a fairly large town down in the valley. The train fare cost us about CHF13 for the return journey.
We had a look round a couple of the shopping centres and then went for a nice lunch in one of the food halls. There was a wide and varied choice of things to eat but in the end I decided on Bruschetta and Parma ham followed by a large and varied salad. Excellent.
Got back up to Champery to find the rain coming down harder than ever with the wind not easing either. Had a nice soak in the bath before going over to the Gueullhi with our laptops to get on the net and  for a few beers.
Dinner tonight was up at Mitchells where I had a nice fish dish and a few glasses of wine.
Went to bed hoping for an improvement in the weather for tommorow. 

Singing in the rain more like

Pete puddle boarding

Me on the Arare draglift

Did I really ride down there ?


Sunday 21st January
I had an early rise and as I looked out I could see that over night there had been snow high up. Had some breakfast and a shower then got the 09.33 train to Aigle. Had a few minutes to wait after dragging my kit over to the other platform. The mainline train takes you past Montreaux and Lausanne, through Geneva and on to the airport. I then made my way upstairs and got rid of my kit at the check in. My flight home left on time and it was clear skys most of the way until we got North of Birmingham where it began to snow. We landed in a snowstorm but I did not have too long in getting my kit and making my way back to the bus pick up point. It was raining heavily when I got back to the car. It was snowing heavily on the M60/M61 but by Preston it had dried up and I was back home by 8pm.



We may not have had the best week for snow conditions but there was enough cover for us to have a fine week. Its all about how you adapt and utilise what you have got. Thanks again to Pete,Mike and Graham for the company and for the laughs we had throughout the week. The fun we had making the Champery 07 video was brilliant. It was also good to meet up again with Jonny,Rob and Jen and I hope to see you all again soon.
Also thanks to Mike for some of the Pics in this report.